The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Tell your kids: The U.S. government has cleared Santa and his reindeer for Christmas

President Obama sings with Santa during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Washington this month. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Not just anyone can fly in U.S. airspace. And it’s very difficult to get approval to bring livestock from overseas. But every year the U.S. government makes a big exception for a foreigner and his eight caribou.

Lest anyone feared that all the political debate around national security would alter Santa Claus’s entry, the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Agriculture issued statements Wednesday that they would waive normal protocol, giving Santa permission to bring his flying sleigh and reindeer into America for one night only.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in press release that an application submitted on Nov. 1 by one Mr. Kris Kringle was approved. In an  actual official government operating authority document, the DOT notes that Santa is aware of “our heightened security concerns.” He does not bring a sky marshal but has asked “Rudolph to stay on high alert.”

DOT also determined that Santa is fit to fly, noting that he is “uniquely suited (red, with fur collar and black boots) to perform this service.”

Meanwhile, the USDA said it waived application fees and normal health inspections for Santa’s reindeer. But, as a condition of entry, “the reindeer must be certified by Santa Claus as never having been fed anything other than hay, sugar plums, and gingerbread.”

“The reindeer must also be individually identified with microchips or official eartag identification, and must respond to the names ‘Dasher’, ‘Dancer’, ‘Prancer’, ‘Vixen’, ‘Comet’, ‘Cupid’, ‘Donner,’  ‘Blitzen’ and ‘Rudolph’ when interacting with port personnel. No more than one reindeer in the group may be visibly affected by ‘Rednose Syndrome,’ and upon entry, port personnel will visually inspect the reindeer to ensure they are healthy and fit for continued travel.”

Turns out even old St. Nick is subject to government bureaucracy.

Now some Scrooges out there may wonder why the federal government would spend its time approving something (or someone) that many adults don’t believe is real.

But then that begs the question this Christmas Eve: Maybe the government knows something we don’t…?